After over 2 years of waiting, Overwatch has finally arrived. Coming from the remains of the “Titan” project, Overwatch is a new entry in the Team-Oriented Role-Based FPS genre. Man, that is what, TORBFPS? Note to self, find better acronym for this. Anyway, until this came the most prosperous game in the this category was Team Fortress 2. And while Team Fortress 2 is still going to be sitting comfortably on its hat filled throne, we finally at least have a game to give it a run for its money.
Don’t Worry Love, Calvary’s Here
Overwatch does not have any shortage of characters with 21 different choices, each with their own play abilities. This also means that there is almost always a counter for the character giving you grief. Bastion tearing you down? Reflect the bullets with Genji. McCree’s “High-Noon” getting on your nerves? Block it with a Reinhardt barrier. These are just a few examples of what can be done. I advise finding at least 1 character in each role (Offense, Defense, Tank, and Support) that you can play to keep things interesting.
Having such a large cast of characters means that have to choose carefully before each match starts to make sure that your team is properly balanced right? Not a chance. First off the game will tell you what it thinks your team is missing. Then once the game starts, with the exception of a specific match type, you can change characters whenever you are in the spawn, and this is encouraged. If you are getting your butt kicked up and down the street, try swapping to another. Find what works and don’t be afraid of the absurd. I heard of one match where they had a whole team made of Mei and just locked down the area with ice walls. Cheap? Absolutely, but effective.
All this said, the tutorial for the game does not go much in depth on the synergy between the different characters. Sure this leaves room for experimentation while in game, but it would be nice to have some basics already figured out so you are not just guessing. Maybe have an additional tutorial where you can select a player controlled character and it cycles through AI controlled characters to teach some basic synergy while allowing more advanced tactics to be fleshed out in game.
Overwatch has 12 maps split among 4 different mission types. The first type is an Assault map. Here the attackers need to capture two spots from the defenders. To capture a point you have to have at least one person in the point with no enemies in the point themselves. The more allies on a point the faster it will capture, up to three. Once captured more time will be added to the clock for the next point.
Next are Escort maps. Here you have to escort a payload from the attacker spawn to somewhere else on the map. The payload moves fastest with 3 allies on/around it and slowly heals you while near it. If the defense can push back the attackers for long enough the payload will slowly start moving back to the last checkpoint.
Then we have Hybrid maps. In these you have to first capture a point as you do in an Assault map which will unlock a payload for escort duty. Lastly there is Control. Here you essentially play king of the hill in best of 3 rounds.
One thing that is great about each of these maps is you can literally have a come from behind victory thanks to Overtime. Overtime happens when the match should be up, but there is a factor in play that could change the game. If the attackers have teammates on the point overtime will not decrease at all while the defense has to deal with them. If there are no attackers near the point then the overtime clock will decrease extremely fast. This has been the cause of some of the most hair raising, but fun matches I have played. Some people may complain that this feature cheapens a victory, but in battle you don’t really think the enemy is going to give up while they are on the point do you?
The World of Overwatch
One thing that you can always count on Blizzard for is to tell one hell of a story. I always enjoy the amount of work they put into their worlds, and despite no campaign mode Blizzard has fully fleshed out the world of Overwatch. In order to flesh out Overwatch they have released 6 online comics, 4 animated shorts, and will be coming out with a graphic novel later this year. The short of the story is Overwatch was formed to combat the Omnic crisis, where AIs infected with a God Virus tried to kill all humans. Once the Omnic crisis was over Overwatch acted as a peacekeeping force, until the world’s governments banned all Overwatch activities. The world is different now, and the heroes are needed once again, with or without permission.
That said, I do really wish that they had a single player or campaign mode. I love the story modes in games and it would be really cool to see what they could do with the world they created. Maybe we will see a future game that actually takes place during the Omnic crisis.
Blizzard has done it again. While the FPS genre is arguably one of the most saturated markets you can find in gaming, they have made a healthy contender. The multiple characters keep it interesting and allow for each match to have it’s own feel to it. If Blizzard can keep up with community and fix exploits without overly nerfing each character they could have a long term contender on their hands.